Root for Softbank in battle for Sprint
The Kansas City Star
Suddenly, Sprint Nextel is the belle of the ball, desired object of two rich suitors half a world apart — Dish Network’s Charles Ergen, the 37th richest man in America, and Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, the second-richest man in Japan.
“Both are good deals,” wireless industry analyst Bill Ho told The Star. Maybe from the point of view of Wall Street, but only one looks like a good deal for Kansas City, and that’s the offer from Softbank.
With 7,500 area employees and a massive office complex in Johnson County, Sprint is one of our region’s biggest employers and most important corporate citizens. It has a hefty philanthropic and civic-involvement presence.
The Softbank offer would leave much of that in place, likely including Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who has greatly helped the company’s prospects.
Then there’s Ergen, the swashbuckling dealmaker whose Colorado firm was tagged in a Bloomberg Businessweek piece as “the meanest company in America.”
For all that, Ergen’s vision for the combined companies would mark the first combination of a video operator and cellphone carrier, able to offer an impressive menu of services.
The worry for Kansas City’s economy is captured in Dish’s estimate of the merger bringing $11.1 billion in savings. It will likely mean lost jobs.
The prospect of a diminished Sprint in Kansas City leads us to root for Softbank.